In our first three studies of the book of Titus, we've been introduced to the author: Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ. His was a ministry of evangelism and discipleship. Today, we are introduced to the recipient of this letter, a man named Titus.
From the contents of this letter, and reading through Galatians, 2Corinthians, and 2Timothy, we can piece together some of Titus' ministry history, his current circumstances, and some personal attributes.
We know from Galatians chapter two that...
Gal. 2:3 ...he was a Greek...
Although Paul's primary heart was to preach the gospel to the Jews (Rom. 9:1-5), the Lord directed him to the Gentiles, where Paul found much more success in people coming to faith in Christ.
Titus was one of those Gentiles who believed in Jesus through the preaching of Paul. Here, he calls him,
Titus 1:4 ...Titus, my true child...
Titus wasn't Paul's biological child - he was his spiritual child. He used this term regarding people whom he'd led to Christ and discipled.
Philem. 1:10 ...my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment
1Tim. 1:2 ...Timothy, my true child in the faith...
When we preach the gospel, people who hear with faith are born again (1Pet. 1:3). They become new creatures in Christ (2Cor. 5:17). They start a whole new life. Paul looked at these new Christians as his spiritual children - his own children to be raised. He felt responsible to lead them to maturity.
Paul's dedication to discipling new believers is clear when we look at how many of them ended up entering the ministry. Titus was a shining example of one of these people. He ministered in many ways and traveled to many places over the years (2Cor. 2:12-13; 2Tim. 4:10; Gal 2:1-3; Titus 1:5), eventually becoming a pastor.
Looking at Titus' life, we learn more about him specifically, as well as some of the attributes of men generally who God calls to the pastoral ministry.
First of all, we see that Titus was not just in ministry because of circumstance, coercion, or obligation. He was earnest to minister. Paul told the Corinthians,
2Cor. 8:16-17 ...thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord.
Titus didn't go to Corinth begrudgingly - he was a man who jumped at the chance to minister to others. Many men want the position of pastor, the mantle of ministry, but have no heart to minister to people. A minister ministers, and Titus had a heart to minister.
Notice too that he ministered both to the large Corinthian church, as well as one-on-one. When Paul was down in the dumps, Titus brought comfort.
2Cor. 7:5-6 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus...
Titus ministered to Paul with both practical support and verbal encouragement. He was just as content to support the solitary soul as he was to minister to the masses.
Secondly, we know that wherever God directed him, he went. He was left in Crete (Titus 1:5) to set the church in order. He traveled to Israel for the Council of Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-3). He was urged to go to Corinth (2Cor. 12:18), traveled to Dal-ma-TEE-ah (2Tim. 4:10), and made every effort to get to Paul at Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). Whatever the job entailed, wherever it took him, he was available, flexible, and mobile.
There are many who say, "I'm called to be a pastor, a missionary, and evangelist," and yet they fail to remain flexible and available to the Lord's direction. They sign an employment contract, get into debt, or enter into other long-term commitments that guarantee their unavailability to the Lord. Not Titus. He was always ready to move at the Lord's command.
Thirdly, Titus was emotionally tied to the church. He cared about people individually, and the church corporately. If the church was in turmoil, Titus was troubled. If the church was loving, he was joyful (2Cor. 7:7, 13-14). This is the heart of a real minister. Paul said,
2Cor. 11:28-29 ...there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
The ministry is not something you do for eight hours a day and then leave it at the office. It is a 24-hour a day commitment of emotional investment in people. If a man doesn't have that heart, he's not going to rightly represent God's heart to God's people.
Fourth on our list, Titus did not compromise the truth because of personal or political pressure. Paul tells how he...
Gal. 2:1-3 ...went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also ... But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
As a Gentile, Titus' body had not been through circumcision. Although there was extreme personal and political pressure from many sides, he knew that to be circumcised to avoid the problems would be to misrepresent the truth. It would demonstrate that the crucifixion of Christ was insufficient to save souls. It would say to everyone, "You are obligated to keep the whole Law, because grace means nothing." Titus was a man of no compromise, despite the opposition he encountered.
I have encountered the same pressure and opposition when I stand firm against the growing number of "Messianic" Christian groups who have fallen into cultish error by preaching the same heresy as the Judaizers did 2,000 years ago. Although many of these fellowships are founded on the principle of evangelizing the Jews by informing them about Jesus as their promised Messiah, many others are deceiving Gentile Christians into believing that obedience to the Mosaic Law is necessary for salvation.
Gal. 5:1-4 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Titus did not bow to the pressure, and I refuse to as well. If you enter the ministry, you must resolve in your heart that regardless of the result, you will not compromise the truth to keep people happy or be politically correct.
Fifth and last: Titus was faithful. He proved himself faithful in whatever task he had been assigned. He was a man who finished what he started. Paul said,
2Cor. 8:6 So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well.
When Titus began a work, he completed it. Too many people have vision, but no follow-through. Too many begin the race, but don't finish.
In Luke nine, three men are used as examples of followers with no follow-through:
Luke 9:57-62 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
Lots of people have lots of excuses, but Jesus is looking for faithful followers with follow-through